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Columbia has been a leader in the field of faculty diversity, having already dedicated over $85 million over the last 11 years.

University President Lee Bollinger unveiled plans to spend $100 million over the next five years on recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty in an email sent to the community today.

Columbia has been a leader in the field of faculty diversity, having already dedicated over $85 million over the last 11 years. Columbia’s first diversity initiative began in 2005 in the Arts and Sciences—the main governmental unit for faculty—and later expanded to include the entire University.

Funding will come from across the University: Individual schools and departments will contribute half of the total amount, and the central administration will supply the rest. About $85 million will go toward recruitment; a small percentage of the funds is reserved for retention, career development, and programming meant to foster an inclusive environment.

Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Dennis Mitchell said in an interview that he was excited to work with Chief Executive of Columbia University Medical Center Lee Goldman and to see the entire University come together to make progress in increasing faculty diversity.

“I see an incredible alignment here at Columbia University where we have a president, a provost, a board of trustees, and the EVP of the medical center all aligned in support of faculty diversity and inclusion,” Mitchell said. “It really is the only way you could see such a large commitment come forward, is when the leadership is aligned.”

Columbia has made significant strides in regards to the representation of minorities on its faculty since the the first diversity initiative began, but still struggles to find and keep enough candidates from underrepresented groups as a result of the intense competition among peer universities to hire diverse candidates.

Mitchell said that the new funds would provide additional resources to prevent other universities from poaching Columbia’s faculty.

“Just as someone has achieved tenure at Columbia University, all of a sudden all of our peers begin to woo them away,” Mitchell said. “We have not had really anything to provide to these faculty, so this will provide opportunities for that. Our peers have half a billion dollars of resources for this targeted work, that’s one of the reasons I felt it was so important to move this through.”

Mitchell said that Columbia’s focus on diversity makes it a more exciting institution.

“To be able to help shepherd this work is really, this is wonderful for me to do,” Mitchell said. “Our faculty diversity amongst our … ranks [has] grown, so it’s a very clear institutional position. It’s fabulous, it makes it really fun to be here.”

eli.lee@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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